The Root of all Things

By Ti Sumner

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“Men-men, honey, you have to stop!” Hume yelled. He took a few steps toward his wife, lifting his polished shoes high and placing them in the remaining grass-covered spots in the yard.

“Men-men!” he yelled from his grassy plateau, the lines in his forehead fissuring deeper. 

Hume knelt on the ground, holding his hand to his princess, his beloved, his dirt-stained wife. “Men-men, pleeeease…please come up out of there,” he pleaded to his wife, her head level with his feet as she stood in her pit. 

Spraying her white dress with loose dirt, Men-men tossed a billowing shovel load to a pile of earth’s layers behind her. 

“Erimentha!” Hume yelled, punctuating each syllable with the staccato of the summer cicada. 

Red-faced and smiling, Men-men looked up, smearing mud across her cheek as she pushed hair from her face. 

“I figured it out,” she sang like the sparrow peering at rain-soaked grass. “All this time I had been looking for the worm hole of the earth – all this time I thought it was just beneath the surface, but then I saw,” she panted between words, her pupils too large for a sunny day, “this morning I saw the drilling monster at the big blue gas well and I realized,” she exclaimed, “there is no hole!” 

“That’s right, honey, there is no hole,” Hume lowered his voice to a soft katydid hum. “Now, please, please, will you come out of that pit?” Hume stretched his hand closer to his wife. 

“I realized I have to make the hole!” She exclaimed, lifting the shovel handle above her head and plunging the blade into the earth at her feet. “Just like the blue monster,” she went on, grunting with the toss of a full spade, “I have to make my own hole.” Men-men hummed and dirt flew, the hole deepened and the sun brightened. 

Crossing grass tufts of lawn like riverbed rocks in a flash flood, Hume ran to his four walls of a brick house. Bourbon in one hand and kitchen phone to his ear, he interrupted the pleasant voice on the line.  

“She’s back at it,” he said, gasping from the liquid burn, “but this time it’s deep as a grave.” Shovel load after shovel load piled higher and higher, flying faster and faster and farther from the pit. The home-stilled bourbon burned a path down his throat. The neighborhood brown bunny sat in the lawn, twitching its nose back and forth as it pulled a leaf through its teeth, one munch at a time.

Dr. Fanastic picked up his line, “How bad is she?” He asked. 

Talking too fast and spilling bourbon as he paced, Hume described the wide-eyed sprint shoveler now possessing his wife. The pit grew and the bunny munched and Hume threw back more bourbon. 

 “I found it!  I found it!” Men-men’s voice sailed through the window. Hume dropped phone and bottle hard to the floor, shattering both in his wake. 

Now standing in a hole deeper than their basement, Men-men held the end of a knotted rope, the other end buried in the earth.  Planting her feet in unspoiled soil, she pulled the rope hand over hand, one knot at a time.  She pulled and pulled, the rope coiling behind her, first like the boat-deck rope of an anchor, then like the giant swirls of a whirlpool caught between two oceanic storms. 

The stars came and the sun left and still the rope piled.  Hume sat beside his wife’s pit, cross-legged and hunched, wrinkled and dry-mouthed.  The earth spun and the sun evaporated the dew, and still the rope piled. 

The rains came before the clouds covered the sun and Men-men shouted, “You should run for your pot of gold.”

Hume jumped into the pit and pulled the rope and said, “I already have my gold.”  And on the rope piled. 

The Indian Ocean came first with its clown fish and endangered green turtles, its dwindling blue whales and the great white sharks.  Then came Australia, owner of the cuddly koalas and the springing kangaroos and the funny-named animals like wallaby and wombat.  The Great Barrier Reef dripped in all its splendid color, plopping dolphins and sea bass in this place once called Buffalo. 

And just like that, Men-men turned the earth around. 

– Ti Sumner

Author’s Note: “The Root of all Things” shows us that anyone possesses the ability to play hero.